27 Apr Bnei Menashe celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut in India (and Safed)
“With hope and prayer we celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut this year in Manipur, but next year in Zion!” writes Shavei Israel’s coordinator for the Bnei Menashe in India Meital Singson. That was the theme of this year’s Israel Independence Day celebrations in Manipur, which drew more than 1,500 Bnei Menashe men, women and children to the B. Vegnom community hall in Churachandpur.
As in past years, there was song (from the “Shining Star Kids” youth troupe), plenty of speeches, and cultural performances in full traditional costume from the Sijang, Tuila, Monglenphai and Phailen communities. Benyamin Haokip, one of Shavei Israel’s new “Fellows,” put the entire program together.
The event began with the raising of the Israeli flag and ended with the entire community uniting to sing HaTikva, the Israeli national anthem. Shavei Fellow Yehoshua Buhril led the prayer for the State of Israel and for the welfare of soldiers serving in the Israel Defense Forces. The community also recited Psalm 126, a tradition initiated by Shavei Israel Chairman Michael Freund based on the psalm’s text: “The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad. Turn again our captivity, O Lord, as the stream in the south. They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.”
Adds Meital Singson: “May the tears of the Bnei Menashe be blessed and may they soon witness the redemption of the entire Bnei Menashe from exile to Zion.”
We have pictures here:
Special bonus: the most recent group of Bnei Menashe to make aliyah have now been settled in the city of Safed in Israel’s northern Galilee. This year, a group of Bnei Menashe musicians performed on the main stage during Safed’s Yom Ha’atzmaut celebrations. The audience was transfixed, says Yotam Karo, Shavei Israel’s coordinator for the Bnei Menashe in Safed, who was there. “Everyone was in shock,” he says.
Karo spoke to a man in the crowd. “For years, I’ve never felt anything like this,” the man said.
Here’s a picture from the stage: